Five Senate Democrats who could retire ahead of 2024
All eyes are turning to a handful of Senate Democrats in key battleground states to see whether they’ll decide to run again in 2024 after Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) announced her retirement this week.
Stabenow’s decision could be the first in a wave of potential retirements that would create GOP pickup opportunities in a tough electoral map for Democrats.
Even though they grew their Senate majority last November, Democrats will have to defend more than twice as many seats as Republicans in 2024, including in competitive states like Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Here are five Senate Democrats to watch as they mull over possible reelection prospects:
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
A centrist Democrat who got his start in the Senate in 2010 after serving as the secretary of state and governor of West Virginia, Manchin is a bit of an anomaly in his state as its only statewide elected Democrat.
Manchin’s tenure has been marked by rankling both Republicans and Democrats at times. He angered members of his party after he initially killed off Democrats’ prospects for passing Build Back Better legislation in December 2021 and for his defense of keeping the filibuster in place — a rule that requires most legislation in the Senate to be passed with at least 60 votes.
After winning a special election in 2010 to serve the rest of the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D) term, Manchin won his first full term in 2012 against Republican John Raese by 24 points. He won again in 2018 by a much closer margin of 3 points against state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R).
Rep. Alex Mooney (R), who won reelection after beating former Rep. David McKinley (R) in a heated member-on-member primary last year, has already announced he’s running in the state’s GOP Senate primary. Gov. Jim Justice (R) and Morrisey are both mulling Senate bids, too. The centrist Democrat is likely to face pressure from members of his party to run again in 2024, considering he won reelection in a state that went overwhelmingly for former President Trump in 2016 and 2020.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
Tester is likewise the only statewide elected Democrat in Montana, and his seat is also being viewed as a critical GOP pickup opportunity. But ousting the Montana Democrat will be no small feat for Republicans should Tester run again, given he’s a three-term incumbent.
The chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, Tester has won his last three races by single digits, including in 2018 against Rep. Matt Rosendale (R), who could run again for the seat.
It’s possible Rep.-elect Ryan Zinke (R), who won back a seat in the House in November, could jump in too. And given that Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is the chairman of the Senate GOP campaign arm for the 2024 cycle, he’s likely to turn the heat up on flipping Tester’s seat.
Though Tester hasn’t said whether he’ll run yet, he projected confidence during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last month that he would win if he chose to run for a fourth time.
“If I decide to run in this thing, and it’ll be a discussion that I have with my family over the holidays because it is a big undertaking, I feel good about my chances,” he said at the time.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.)
Casey’s announcement on Thursday that he was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer has left many wondering what the news might mean for him past 2024. In a statement, he said that he had “an excellent prognosis” and had noted that he was “confident that my recommended course of treatment will allow me to continue my service in the 118th Congress with minimal disruption.”
The son of former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey Sr. (D) and a three-term incumbent, Casey won two out of three of his races by double digits, including in 2018 when he beat Republican Lou Barletta by 13 points. After Republicans lost the Pennsylvania Senate race in November in a match-up between now-Sen. John Fetterman (D) and GOP candidate Mehmet Oz, members of the party will be looking for an opportunity to regain a seat in the Keystone State.
Former hedge fund executive David McCormick, who narrowly lost the GOP primary to Oz last year, is reportedly considering another Senate run in 2024, according to Bloomberg News.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
Trump won the Badger State in 2016 by less than a percentage point. President Biden won it in 2020 against Trump by a nearly identical margin. It’s a state whose senators, Baldwin and Ron Johnson (R), are considered polar opposites on issues ranging from Trump’s impeachment to gun policy. But for many voters, it’s simply a continual reminder of Wisconsin’s reputation as a swing state.
The 2024 Senate race is expected to be no less competitive as Baldwin decides whether to run for a third term. Baldwin, the first openly gay senator in the U.S. who is known for her work on the Affordable Care Act, has won her last two races by wider-than-expected margins for a swing state — close to 6 points in 2012 and by more than 10 points in 2018.
Johnson’s recent reelection win in November against Democrat Mandela Barnes is likely to offer some momentum for the party given the senator was considered the most vulnerable GOP candidate in the chamber up for reelection. Still, Democrats may read the tea leaves of the race differently and interpret Johnson’s 1-point win as a sign that they could stand to see another Democratic win through in two years.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
A former lieutenant governor and governor of Virginia, in addition to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 vice presidential running mate, the two-term incumbent Kaine has been a mainstay in Virginia and national politics for years.
Though Republicans flipped fewer House seats in Virginia than they had hoped during the November midterms, there are signs that Democrats shouldn’t get too comfortable about Kaine’s seat: Republicans won back the state House of Delegates in 2021, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) flipped the governor’s mansion red for the first time in over decade after he beat former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
Plus, a survey from the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington released last September suggested Kaine and Youngkin would be tied in a hypothetical match-up in 2024, with the governor receiving 39 percent and Kaine receiving 41 percent. The margin of error for the survey was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
While Youngkin hasn’t announced a run for the Senate and has been more widely floated as a 2024 GOP presidential candidate, the polling suggests that candidate quality on the Republican side could put the Senate seat within reach.
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